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New home for Vista College

By Chason Wainwright Daily Planet staff
Saturday December 02, 2000

Vista College is finally going to get a permanent home.  

Ratcliff Architects, an architectural and interior design firm based in Emeryville and San Francisco, which specializes in academic building design, has been commissioned by the Peralta Community College District to design the 160,000 square foot, $35 million campus. The new school will be located on Center Street in downtown Berkeley and will be funded by Measure E, a bond passed by voters Nov. 7.  

The new campus, according to a written statement by the firm, will “provide the latest technological teaching resources within an environmentally sensitive environment.” The site will include lecture halls, wet and computer labs, a library and a general assembly space. It will also have off-site parking.  

Crodd Chin, principal-in-charge of the Vista College project said: “Flexibility is important and can vary according to community needs; therefore, facilities need to be adaptable for future educational program changes.”  

Ratcliff’s plans call for the ground floor level “to have openness and visibility and easily accessed public spaces.” 

The firm has been involved in a number of projects in the local area including those on the UC Berkeley campus and the music building at Mills College in Oakland.  

Vista College, which opened as Peralta Learning Pavilion in 1974 and later changed its name, has had a history of being a “college without walls,” according to Liz Fogarino of marketing and public relations at Vista. She said the college currently has many locations it uses for classroom space, including classrooms on the UC Berkeley campus.  

Fogarino said the new campus, which will serve nearly 5,000 students from Albany, Berkeley and Emeryville, will continue its current relationship with UC Berkeley. Most of the classes Vista offers on the Berkeley campus are liberal arts transfer courses, she said, noting that holding the classes on the campus gives Vista students the opportunity to see what it’s like to attend classes on a major university campus. She added that nearly 40 percent of Vista’s total classes are currently held at UC Berkeley.  

The new site is located near many forms of public transportation. Fogarino said that 50 to 70 percent of Vista students use public transportation or ride bicycles. 

The new campus, slated to open in late 2002 will offer a variety of programs, including business, bio-technology, English, computer technology, and much more. Vista’s main campus is currently located at 2020 Milvia St.